isthmus: linking the personal and institutional in learning technologies
Many contemporary students engage with numerous web-based services and tools that are used both for social purposes and to manage their learning, work and their life. While it is clear that universities may want to harness the power of these to enhance personal and collaborative learning, educational institutions no longer exercise a monopoly over these tools and may be offering redundant or duplicate services, and have gaps in their provision for students who are ‘digital natives’. If this is the case, it is clear that in the near future, universities will have to change practice and utilise ‘bridging’ technologies to encourage this type of student to engage with institutional online provisions whilst also allowing the flexibility for them to use services they already ‘own’. If learning remains mediated only by the institutional VLE without engaging in the online environment students may bring to the institution, then there is likely to be a clash of cultures in which the institution will appear inflexible and outmoded in its assumptions and output. With a growing portfolio of online courses with hundreds of life long learning students, the Department for Continuing Education at the University of Oxford are constantly seeking ways to better support them. The Technology-supported learning environments: user-owned technology demonstrator projects as proposed by JISC offered an ideal context to explore ways to extend what we offer to students above and beyond out traditional online courses.
Aims and Objectives
The Isthmus project aims to provide a link between the technological landscape inhabited by many students and the technologies offered by tertiary educational institutions. By researching the uptake of user-owned technologies among selected students Isthmus will establish the requirements for a demonstrator integration of tools and systems between institutional and individually owned technologies and pilot and evaluate these.
The specific objectives are to:
- Research the best way to integrate user owned technologies with current institutional practice.
- Create a prototype solution to facilitate the integration of user-owned technologies with educational technology systems.
- Pilot a prototype solution and evaluate it
- Provide guidance and transferable models to support other institutions contemplating the use of similar technologies.
- Allow learners a more personalised learning experience through the use of user-defined tools.
- Disseminate knowledge gained to inform concurrent and future JISC initiatives.
The project will adopt a methodology consonant with its exploratory nature, seeking to elicit themes and issues and clarify them rather than attempting to prove a particular hypothesis. It will establish requirements by using questionnaires and selective in-depth interviews. This will be enhanced by reviewing previous research into student behaviour, technology use and tools, notably the studies carried out as part of the JISC ‘Understanding my Learning’ programme. The project will then map its findings against the well-developed systems already found in the Department to suggest how best to integrate the benefits to be found in personal uses of technologies with more formal course offerings, currently delivered or supported through the Moodle VLE. This will be followed by a period of development, to create a prototype solution that bridges the institutional boundary, allowing students to engage with educational offerings using technologies which they own. The project will then pilot this prototype solution and evaluate the outcomes, feeding back into the wider JISC community.
- The project will develop and pilot a new technical solution to support flexible and personalised education for lifelong learners.
- It will provide guidance and transferable models to support other institutions contemplating the use of similar technologies.
- It will provide learners with a more personalised learning experience through the use of user-defined tools.
- Where applicable, the project will provide practical feedback on models and ideas developed by the JISC such as the e-framework.
- The project will disseminate knowledge gained to inform concurrent and future JISC initiatives.
- All outputs will be developed as open source, with IP to JISC and HEFCE to allow for maximum dissemination.
- Academic institutions
- Learning technologists
- Web 2.0 service providers
- Mobile service providers
- Open source VLE developers
- Deborah Goodbody, Technology-Assisted Lifelong Learning, University of Oxford, Department for Continuing Education, Ewert House, Ewert Place, Summertown, Oxford OX2 7DD Tel: 01865 280981 Fax: 01865 280982 Deborah.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Marion Manton, University of Oxford, Department for Continuing Education Tel: 01865 280 986 email@example.com
- David White, University of Oxford, Department for Continuing Education Tel; 01865 280 989 firstname.lastname@example.org
- David Balch, University of Oxford, Department for Continuing Education Tel: 01865 280979 email@example.com
- Mike Taylor, University of Oxford, Department for Continuing Education Tel: 01865 280988 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Matt Street, University of Oxford, Department for Continuing Education Tel: 01865 80985 email@example.com
- Liz Masterman, University of Oxford, Department for Continuing Education Tel: 01865 283690 firstname.lastname@example.org